Τετάρτη, 18 Ιουνίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Shipping needs radical rethink warn climate experts

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:03 PM PDT

Avoiding dangerous levels of climate change requires a radical rethink of the shipping system, according to a new report. If global shipping is to make its fair contribution to avoiding the 2°C of warming associated with dangerous climate change, CO2 emissions need to be cut within the next decade and fall by at least 80% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels, say experts.

What amino acids in shells can tell us about Bronze Age people

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 02:08 PM PDT

A new study has shed new light on the use of mollusc shells as personal adornments by Bronze Age people. The research team used amino acid racemisation analysis (a technique used previously mainly for dating artefacts), light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy and Raman spectroscopy, to identify the raw materials used to make beads in a complex necklace discovered at an Early Bronze Age burial site at Great Cornard in Suffolk, UK.

Why species matter: Underlying assumptions and predictive ability of functional-group models used to study seabed communities

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 11:48 AM PDT

A doctoral candidate travels to French Polynesia often but not for vacation. She goes there to study a coral reef ecosystem influenced by human impacts such as overfishing and nutrient pollution. Her work focuses not only on biological changes but also methods scientists use to determine within-group group responses to ecological processes.

Livestock gut microbes contributing to greenhouse gas emissions

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 09:19 AM PDT

One-fifth of methane emissions has been attributed by researchers to livestock such as cattle, sheep and other ruminants, but the amount of methane produced varies substantially among animals in the same species. Researchers aimed to explore role the microbes living in the rumen play in this process.

Bats make social alliances that affect roosting behavior

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 08:22 AM PDT

Depending on habitat availability, the endangered Indiana bat may be able to use its social connections to survive a certain amount of roost destruction, according to research. Indiana bats form maternity colonies in summer beneath the bark of live trees or standing dead trees known as snags. "Social dynamics are important to bat roosting behavior," said one investigator. "And now, looking at results of a study of roosting and foraging activity in a new light, we have evidence that Indiana bats make social contacts during foraging."

Gut bacteria predict survival after stem cell transplant, study shows

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 08:22 AM PDT

The diversity of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract of patients receiving stem cell transplants may be an important predictor of their post-transplant survival, researchers report. Researchers found a strong connection between post-transplant gut microbiota diversity and outcomes, observing overall survival rates of 36 percent, 60 percent, and 67 percent among the low, intermediate, and high diversity groups, respectively.

Unique greenhouse gas meter developed

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 08:20 AM PDT

Scientists have come up with a high-resolution meter to gauge the concentration of gases in the atmosphere with unparalleled precision. Tracking down carbon dioxide, methane and other gases with simultaneous determination of their concentrations at different altitudes is necessary, in particular, for research into global warming.

Climate change deflecting attention from biodiversity loss

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 08:20 AM PDT

Recent high levels of media coverage for climate change may have deflected attention and funding from biodiversity loss, researchers suggest. the team conducted a content analysis of newspaper coverage in four US broadsheets and four UK broadsheets. Academic peer-reviewed coverage and project funding by the World Bank and National Science Foundation were also examined.

Conditions linked to deadly bird flu revealed: High risk areas identified

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 08:20 AM PDT

A dangerous strain of avian influenza, H7N9, that's causing severe illness and deaths in China may be inhabiting a small fraction of its potential range and appears at risk of spreading to other suitable areas of India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines, according to a new study.

Gene differences in yellow fever, malaria mosquitoes mapped

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 08:18 AM PDT

Entomologists have developed a chromosome map for about half of the genome of the mosquito Aedes agypti, the major carrier of dengue fever and yellow fever. With the map, researchers can compare the chromosome organization and evolution between this mosquito and the major carrier of malaria, and chart ways to prevent diseases.

Promising T cell therapy to protect from infections after transplant

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 07:29 AM PDT

When patients have to undergo a bone marrow transplant, the procedure weakens their immune system. Viruses that are usually kept in check in a healthy immune system may then cause potentially fatal infections. Scientists have now developed a method that could offer patients conservative protection against such infections after a transplant. The method has already been used to treat several patients successfully.

Could 'fragile Y hypothesis' explain chromosome loss?

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:40 AM PDT

A new study suggests a 'fragile Y hypothesis' to explain why some species lose their Y chromosome and others, such as humans, keep it. They believe the size of an area where X and Y genetic information mingle or recombine can serve as a strong clue that a species is at risk of losing the Y chromosome during sperm production.

Fecal transplants restore healthy bacteria and gut functions

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:38 AM PDT

Fecal microbiota transplantation -- the process of delivering stool bacteria from a healthy donor to a patient suffering from intestinal infection with the bacterium Clostridium difficile -- works by restoring healthy bacteria and functioning to the recipient's gut, according to a new study.

Geothermal: Hunting for heat energy, deep within Earth

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:37 AM PDT

Capturing green energy from deep in the Earth will bring competitive electricity and district heating – with help from Norway. Ever since Jules Verne's 1864 novel " A Journey to the Centre of the Earth", people have dreamt of capturing the heat of planet Earth. It exists in huge amounts, is completely renewable and emits no CO2.

Chemical pollution of European waters is worse than anticipated

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:32 AM PDT

Substantial improvements in freshwater quality by 2015 have been a declared objective of the EU member states, manifesting itself by the requirements of the Water Framework Directive. A recent study shows that this target is unlikely to be met due to the high levels of toxicants in the water bodies. One of the reasons: current measures for the improvement of water quality do not account for the effects of toxic chemicals. The study demonstrates for the first time on a pan-European scale that the ecological risks posed by toxic chemicals are considerably greater than has generally been assumed.

The hidden history of rain: Plant waxes reveal rainfall changes during the last 24,000 years

Posted: 17 Jun 2014 06:29 AM PDT

Across the edges of the Indian Ocean, the amount of rainfall differs greatly. If it rains particularly hard in the Sumatran rain forest, the already arid region of East Africa is onset with drought. Researchers have found that this cyclic, bipolar climate phenomenon has likely been around for 10,000 years. The pilot study sheds light on the climate system of a region whose rainfall patterns have a major impact on global climate.

Discovery of Earth's northernmost perennial spring

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 05:45 PM PDT

Scientists have discovered the highest latitude perennial spring known in the world. This high-volume spring demonstrates that deep groundwater circulation through the cryosphere occurs, and can form gullies in a region of extreme low temperatures and with morphology remarkably similar to those on Mars. The 2009 discovery raises many new questions because it remains uncertain how such a high-volume spring can originate in a polar desert environment.

Better methods to detect E. coli developed

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 05:40 PM PDT

Diagnosticians are helping the cattle industry save millions of dollars each year by developing earlier and accurate detection of E. coli. "Developing a method to detect E. coli before it can potentially contaminate the food supply benefits the beef industry by preventing costly recalls but also benefits the consumer by ensuring the safety of the beef supply," a researcher said.

Controlling ragweed pollen in Detroit: A no-mow solution for Motown?

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 05:39 PM PDT

When it comes to controlling hay fever-triggering ragweed plants on Detroit vacant lots, occasional mowing is worse than no mowing at all, and promoting reforestation might be the best solution. The researchers found that ragweed was significantly more likely to be present in vacant lots mowed once a year or once every two years -- a common practice in Detroit, which has one of the highest proportions of vacant lots in the United States -- than in lots mowed monthly or not at all.

How do bats use swimming pools? Researchers want public help

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 05:39 PM PDT

As spring turns to summer, many of us enjoy the longer days by lingering on our back porches or sitting by the pool. It's the latter on which researchers are focusing. They would like the public's help in understanding how bats use swimming pools. A nationwide survey is now available online, so if you own, use or manage a swimming pool, you can provide valuable information. Even if you have never seen a bat near your pool, that's important, researchers say.

Conserving remnants of West African tropical forest

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 05:39 PM PDT

Nearly 80 percent of Upper Guinean forests, which once covered more than 103 million acres across Western Africa, have been cleared -— a victim of rapid population growth and agricultural expansion. The remaining forest sections are concentrated in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana. Using satellite imagery, a researcher will examine the effect of human encroachment, climate change and fire on the Upper Guinean forests during the last 40 years and look at how fires may impact the remaining forest fragments.

Getting rid of old mitochondria: Some neurons turn to neighbors to help take out the trash

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 05:39 PM PDT

It's broadly assumed that cells degrade and recycle their own old or damaged organelles, but researchers have now discovered that some neurons transfer unwanted mitochondria -- the tiny power plants inside cells -- to supporting glial cells called astrocytes for disposal.

Gardens help cancer survivors cope, heal and grow

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 05:39 PM PDT

Gardening helped cancer survivors eat better, get more exercise and improve physical function, a study concludes. Harvest for Health is a study that paired cancer survivors and master gardeners. The idea was to see if gardening would help survivors eat a more nutritious diet and improve physical activity.

Great white shark population in good health along California coast

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 05:37 PM PDT

The great white shark is not endangered in the eastern North Pacific, and, in fact, is doing well enough that its numbers likely are growing, according to an international research team. Scientists reanalyzed 3-year-old research that indicated white shark numbers in the eastern North Pacific were alarmingly low, with only 219 counted at two sites. That study triggered petitions to list white sharks as endangered.

'Smoking gun' ancient coins are being looted from excavations

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 05:37 PM PDT

Millions of ancient looted coins from archaeological excavations enter the black market yearly, and a researcher who has seen plundered sites likens the thefts to stealing "smoking guns" from crime scenes. But those who collect and study coins have been far too reluctant to condemn the unregulated trade, he says.

Quantum biology: Algae evolved to switch quantum coherence on and off

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 12:15 PM PDT

Scientists have discovered how algae that survive in very low levels of light are able to switch on and off a weird quantum phenomenon that occurs during photosynthesis. The function in the algae of this quantum effect, known as coherence, remains a mystery, but it is thought it could help them harvest energy from the sun much more efficiently. Working out its role in a living organism could lead to advances such as better organic solar cells.

The games genes play: Algorithm helps explain sex in evolution

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 12:15 PM PDT

Computer theorists have identified an algorithm to describe the strategy used by genes during sexual recombination. In doing so, they address the dueling evolutionary forces of survival of the fittest and of diversity. "The key to this work is the making of a connection between three theoretical fields: algorithms, game theory and evolutionary theory," said one researcher. "This new bridge is an uncommon advance that opens up possibilities for cross-fertilization between the fields in the future."

Your genes affect your betting behavior

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 12:15 PM PDT

People playing competitive games like betting engage two main areas of the brain: the medial prefrontal cortex and the striatum. Researchers scanned 12 genes involved in dopamine regulation in these areas and found that some genetic variants affect how bettors deal with trial-and-error learning, while other variants affect belief learning, that is, how well they respond to the actions of others.

Omega-3 inhibits blood vessel growth in age-related macular degeneration

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 12:14 PM PDT

The omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, DHA and EPA, and their specific bioactive products derived from the cytochrome P450 pathway, can influence choroidal neovascularization and vascular leakage by modulating micro-environmental immune cell recruitment to the site of lesions, researchers have shown for the first time.

Computation leads to better understanding of influenza virus replication

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 12:13 PM PDT

Computer simulations that reveal a key mechanism in the replication process of influenza A may help defend against future deadly pandemics. Treating influenza relies on drugs that are becoming less and less effective due to viral evolution. But scientists have published computational results that may give drug designers the insight they need to develop the next generation of effective influenza treatment.

Chikungunya mutation places several countries at risk of epidemic

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 11:15 AM PDT

For the first time, researchers were able to predict further adaptations of the chikungunya virus that recently spread from Africa to several continents that will likely result in even more efficient transmission and infection of more people by this virus strain. Since 2005, 1 in 1,000 chikungunya virus infections has resulted in a fatal disease.

Vitamin A derivative potentially treats type 2 diabetes, prevents its cardiovascular complications

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 11:14 AM PDT

The potential of retinoic acid (RA), a derivative of Vitamin A, has been demonstrated in treating obesity and type 2 diabetes and preventing their cardiovascular complications. This research comes at a time when obesity, type 2 diabetes, and their complications are a veritable epidemic worldwide.

C. difficile epidemic should concern not only hospital patients but people at home

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 10:42 AM PDT

Without proper infection prevention in hospitals, and now homes, the Clostridium difficile bacteria poses a major health threat, cautions an infection control researcher. While mainly a concern in hospitals, cases of the C. difficile infection (or C. diff) are on the rise in the community, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that has seen increased reports of the infected people who have had no contact with hospital patients with the infection.

Discovery of bud-break gene could lead to trees adapted for a changing climate

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 10:09 AM PDT

The function of a gene that controls the awakening of trees from winter dormancy, has been discovered by scientists. This function is a critical factor in the trees' ability to adjust to environmental changes associated with climate change. While other researchers have identified genes involved in producing the first green leaves of spring, the discovery of a master regulator in poplar trees could eventually lead to breeding plants that are better adapted for warmer climates.

How sperm get into the zona

Posted: 16 Jun 2014 06:30 AM PDT

Before it can fertilize an egg, a sperm has to bind to and bore through an outer egg layer known as the zona pellucida. Researchers now identify the protein in the zona pellucida that sperm latch onto. The zona pellucida protects the egg and the early embryo before implantation.

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